Cases of loneliness, elder abuse during lockdown on the rise in Chandigarh
The two lockdowns were a harrowing experience for senior citizens living in the tricity.
On World Elder Abuse Awareness Day observed on June 15, many senior citizen bodies have reported that incidents of elder abuse went up during the pandemic and many citizens faced loneliness or/and were diagnosed with psychiatric issues.
Out of the 11.3 lakh population of Chandigarh as per the 2011 census, there are 83,952 senior citizens in the city as per the 2019 Lok Sabha registered voters’ list with seniors forming 7.4% of the population.
Gurnam Singh, a member of the Chandigarh Senior Citizens’ Association (CSCA) that coordinates with the UT administration regarding cases of elder abuse, said that the number of cases coming to him had increased compared to previous years. “Due to loss of livelihood and staying home alone, there are about 300 pending complaints with the UT deputy commissioner ever since March 2020. On my end, I counsel the parties whenever I receive calls like these,” he said, adding that a system must be put in place so that these complaints could be streamlined and resolved within a period of six months.
The Modern Housing Complex Resident Welfare Association (RWA) had been running a special programme for seniors, providing food to those with Covid and those living alone. President of the RWA, Colonel (retd) Gursewak Singh, said, “Our volunteers would also talk to the seniors as they would get lonely. We also started hosting a webinar where we would talk to them and work on stress management.”
Second Innings Association president RK Garg also said that more cases of senior abuse had come forward: “The first lockdown was harsh for the seniors since we were not allowed to go outside. This affected many who had to go for physiotherapy and other medical procedures. Many seniors were left at the mercy of their household help. In Sector 27, a maid refused to feed a senior and he couldn’t do anything about it. Later, he also fell in the house and had to be rushed to the hospital.”
The situation has improved in the second wave as per Garg. “Those with children living outside have been reunited with them. The lockdown restrictions put up by the administration were more reasonable and we had learnt from the first wave.”
In Mohali, too, seniors had a bad year. As per the president of the Mohali Senior Citizen Association, Swarn Chaudhary, loneliness has led to psychiatric problems for the seniors: “Not being allowed to go outside has affected many who have now developed psychiatric disorders. Neighbours are insensitive to our plight and there have been problems getting our pensions as well. Those with children and grandchildren settled abroad were the worst affected.”